US & Canada

Donald Trump transition: What now for Ivanka?

Ivanka Trump listens to Donald Trump speak at the Republican National Convention. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Trump is poised to take on a prominent role in her father's White House

She is a successful businesswoman, author and celebrity in her own right, with a reported net worth of $150m (£120m). But what new role might the president-elect be contemplating for his daughter, Ivanka?

Thirty-five-year-old Ivanka Trump is used to a life in the spotlight.

As a teenager, she worked as a model. As an adult, she has a wide-ranging empire that touches fashion, business, media and self-help.

But she faces an entirely new level of scrutiny as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to move to the White House - and to take Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, with him.

Trump announced in November that his wife, Melania, would be staying in New York - at least initially - after his inauguration to allow their youngest son, Barron, to finish the school year.

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are considering a move to fashionable Georgetown in Washington DC, amid reports Mr Trump is giving the couple office space in the White House usually earmarked for the first lady.

Susan Swain, an author of a book on the first ladies, says Melania's decision represents a departure from typical White House protocol. But it is not surprising for a family encountering the fishbowl of DC politics for the first time.

"Every first lady has to make this job in their own image, so they can survive in it," said Swain, noting that First Lady Michelle Obama also considered staying in Chicago with the couple's two young daughters after Obama won the election.

Melania Trump's decision to stay in New York represents a sentiment shared by first ladies through the generations, she says - to preserve a sense of normality, and shield the children of the president from public eye as much as possible.


Image copyright Reuters

A $50,000 (£40,129) cup of coffee with Ivanka Trump

The Eric Trump Foundation is auctioning off a cup of coffee with the future first daughter, the New York Times reported.

Ozan M Ozkural, a London-based investment manager, told the newspaper he bid nearly $60,000 at the chance of gaining insight on how the president-elect plans to deal with Turkey and other nations

The bidding, which was valued at $50,000, reached $72,888 as of early Friday

Eric Trump told the Times he was considering shutting down the event, which was meant to benefit St Jude Children's Research Hospital of Tennessee. The fundraising page has since disappeared.


While Melania stays in New York, Ivanka Trump seems poised to take on some of the first lady's duties, serving as de facto hostess for meetings with dignitaries and at formal events.

This is not particularly unusual, either - US presidents including Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon B Johnson, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan all had help from family members who weren't their wives in fulfilling the role.

But Ivanka Trump's role could be bigger. She raised eyebrows at a sit-down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and, more recently, at a summit with tech titans from Facebook, Apple and other Silicon Valley giants.

Could she have a hand in her father's policy-making? She has championed specific causes in the past - childcare, women's rights and climate change - that may at times be at odds with Republican party line.

Michael Kranish, co-author of Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power, says while Trump's plans for Ivanka will remain hazy until a formal announcement is made, the president-elect has always relied on family to serve as some of his closest business advisers.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Questions about Ms Trump's role emerged when she sat in on a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

"Ivanka played a major role in the campaign and transition, so it is widely expected she and her husband, Jared Kushner, will play a very important role advising him," Kranish said.

In an interview with the New York Times, policy adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter said she saw Ivanka Trump as a champion for women in the Trump presidency.

"She is really serious about the 'care agenda' and can be a strong inside force," said Slaughter.

How formal a role can Ivanka Trump have in the Trump administration? As long as she is not a federal employee, she dodges US nepotism laws established during the Kennedy era to keep family members of a president from taking too much power in the US government.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has indicated that the administration may intend to take advantage of this loophole.

"The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing, because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said, adding the caveat that any work in the White House would need a "complete distinction and separation" from Trump's business dealings.

She has not been named by her father as one of the people running his company when he is president.

But allegations of conflicts of interest are unlikely to disappear.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People try on Ivanka Trump jewellery at Trump Tower

She had a taste of this shortly when she wore a bracelet from her own fine jewellery brand in the Trump family's first nationally-televised post-election interview.

A press release touting the $10,000 piece sparked a minor media flap, prompting a formal apology from the company's president.

Was that misstep a learning experience, or a preview for the types of conflict that will bedevil the Trump administration? Experts say that remains to be seen.

"We are certainly as a country covering new ground in never having had a business family come to the White House in this capacity," Swain said.

"We can only hope that the Trump family is cautious of all the ethical challenges that could lie before them if they're not careful."

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